Trafficking in Persons – by US Ambassador to Guyana, Brendt Hardt

Trafficking in Persons – by US Ambassador to Guyana, Brendt Hardt

Guest Colun – Demerara Waves – June 19, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the 2012 United States Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report June 19 reviewing the efforts of 186 countries to combat the scourge of modern day slavery.  This year’s report, entitled “the Promise of Freedom,” calls on every government, including the United States, to commit itself to fulfilling the promise of freedom from slavery.

Some may ask why the United States prepares such a report on other countries. Our goal is not to criticize others, but to call attention to a global threat to vulnerable groups of people in order to stimulate global action to protect victims, prevent future abuses, and investigate and prosecute perpetrators of this modern-day slavery.          

Because of concerted international action called for in the “Palermo Protocol” to United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and in the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act, this quest for freedom is now embodied in modern anti-trafficking laws and international protocols that punish traffickers while providing services and legal recourse to victims.  Thanks to the actions of governments, civil society organizations, and courageous individuals, the tide is turning.  In releasing the report, Secretary Clinton also honored this year’s “TIP Heroes,” men and women whose personal efforts have made an extraordinary difference in the global fight against modern slavery.  You can read their stories in the TIP report, which can be found on-line at http://www.state.gov/j/tip).

Over the past year, the United States Embassy in Georgetown and the Government of Guyana have forged an active and productive dialogue on Trafficking in Persons aimed at strengthening Guyana’s ability to prosecute offenders, protect victims, and prevent future cases of TIP.  Our senior officials held a digital video conference to align perspectives and chart closer cooperation.  We also worked together to hold a workshop on TIP identification, investigation, and prosecution for over thirty government and civil society representatives.  This dialogue and engagement clearly reflects the commitment of the government and people of Guyana to work in partnership to address this global threat to the dignity of children, women, and men.

This year’s report observes that Guyana is both a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Guyanese nationals have been subjected to human trafficking in Guyana and in other countries in the Caribbean region, often involving women and girls in forced prostitution, but also potentially involving the use of child labor within the mining industry, agriculture, and forestry sectors.

While the report concludes that Guyana does not yet fully meet the minimum international standards for the elimination of trafficking as set forth in the UN’s Palermo Protocol, it recognizes that the country is making significant efforts to do so.  It highlights the government’s enhanced efforts to identify, assist, and protect victims of trafficking during the reporting period, noting that these efforts helped identify and assist an increased number of sex trafficking victims during the reporting period.

The report also points out that there were no prosecutions of trafficking offenders and no substantial progress on previously initiated prosecutions.  This highlights a potentially serious lack of accountability for trafficking perpetrators.

To address these challenges, the TIP Report offers several constructive recommendations to strengthen Guyana’s efforts to prevent and prosecute TIP:

1)  hold trafficking offenders accountable by vigorously and appropriately investigating and prosecuting forced prostitution and forced labor;

2) develop standard operating procedures to guide and encourage front line officials and NGOs in identifying and protecting victims;

3) foster a climate of open dialogue on trafficking; and

4) consider developing a working level task force to track reports and investigations.

In the spirit of transparency and partnership, the TIP Report contains a ranking and narrative of U.S. progress in addressing human trafficking.  We hope this assessment will illustrate that the United States holds itself to the same standards by which it assesses other countries and will encourage other countries to take a self-critical approach to their anti-trafficking efforts.

No country is immune from modern slavery, and both the United States and Guyana are affected with victims in our own countries and victims who are our citizens abroad.  At the end of the day, trafficking in persons is about people – our sisters and brothers, children and parents – who may be caught up in a web of injustice from which they cannot extricate themselves.  That is why the United States has sought to bring this issue to the forefront of global attention, and also why we know that the government and people of Guyana share this commitment.  Only by working together can we hope to meet this challenge and defeat the scourge of modern day slavery.

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Comments

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/20/2012 at 4:46 pm

    The Palermo Protocol of which Guyana is a signatory among 186 other countries of the UN group of nations, states specifically the desire for countries to put a mechanism in place to capture those involved in Human Trafficking. This includes the Sex trade, Child labour and humans caught in modern day slave trade business. The world may be overpopulated with some 9 billion people and poverty and starvation may become the order of the day. Those who are guilty of propagating of such heinous crimes against humanity, in these days are escaping the law enforcement agencies due to also non cooperation from those who are steeped in this kind of human trade. No one in Guyana has been prosecuted to date although the trade has links to the other Caricom countries. The question before us is whether we want to enforce some kind of task force to work on this particular issue and bring the culprits to trials before a court of Law. The suggestions given by the US embassy should be considered adequate for dealing with the problem.CARICOM is a an agency that can play a leading role in the prevention of this kind of trafficking in Human flesh and modern day Slavery but the Secretariat in Georgetown has to make these vital recommendations to the heads of state for consideration and necessary action. This must be put before the Secretariat by someone else. The records of this Secretariat will show a level of non-performance and hence non achievement. They are a low key organisation. What is their role in today’s global family one will always wonder.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 06/20/2012 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks for bringing attention to this issue.

  • wycs  On 06/21/2012 at 6:46 pm

    Why should the USA pronounce on other countries when the USA could be the worst culprit in trafficking in persons.They should not comment on themselves but let another country(a third world country) who knows them well do the TIP. This is quite an unfair comment on Guyana as it always is every year. Where does the US get this information as it is always wrong in its assessment.

  • wycs  On 06/21/2012 at 6:56 pm

    I forgot to mention that The Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Clement Rohee made a write up in the Chronicle a day in this week which seems to show a small amount of Guyanese are in front of the courts still awaiting trail and this does not show anything serious in this country!

  • Cyril Balkaran  On 06/22/2012 at 2:27 am

    Guyana is a signatory to the Palermo Protocol of the UN. In order to honour this agreement certain steps must be taken by the Country. It is good to learn that a small amount of the wrong doers are before the court and are awating trials. There is evidence around the Caribbean of the lucrative roving prostitution ring involving dealers ans traders in the human flesh operating in Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, Barbados, Columbia, Jamaica and the countries Immigration officers are aware of this trade. They spend 28 to 30 days in each country before their bosses and ring leaders move them to another Caribbean venue. Only one week ago the Trinidad Express news highlighted the good works of the combined police and immigration officials raid on a guest house in North Trinidad and nabbed 32 such persons for dancing in the nude and displaying lewd behaviour. They are being charged for the same offences and are before the magistrate court.

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